After back-to-back Restaurant Wars episodes, Top Chef: Kentucky finally showed us a little more Kentucky last night, specifically, the Rathskeller at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. To the recap!
Unless you’re a diehard Top Chef fan, you probably don’t pay any attention to Last Chance Kitchen, the show’s online spinoff where eliminated chefs compete for the chance to get back on the show. After Nini was sent packing for her poor front of house management last week, she’s back to face off against last season’s runner up, Brother Luck, which I refuse to believe is a real name. Instead of a Quickfire Challenge this week, the chefs are split up to help either Nini or Brother Luck get back in the competition. Naturally, this is pretty awkward for those that are put on Brother Luck’s team, like Kelsey, who is close friends with Nini. But, Kelsey’s competitive spirit wins out and she, Kentucky girl Sara, Eddie, Brian, and Adrienne help carry Brother Luck to the win. So, for the second week in a row, Nini is eliminated. That’s gotta sting.
Speakeasys are all the rage these days, and Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel is the perfect setting for this week’s Prohibition Era-style challenge. The chefs are tasked with creating a canape to pair with a classic cocktail of the time period for 100 guests. Nic Christiansen, the beverage director of Butchertown Grocery, introduces the cocktails they’ll have to choose from: Gin Rickey, Southside Fizz, Old Fashioned, The Last Word, Whiskey Sour, and the 12 Mile Limit. Only two chefs can be pick a certain cocktail, meaning the last to pick may not end up with their first choice. They’ve got 30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods, three hours to prep and cook, and an additional hour before the party starts the next day.
While the chefs take their fleet of red BMWs to Whole Foods, we learn more about Brother Luck, whose parents were exotic dancers. Maybe his name really is Brother Luck. Some of the other chefs — cough, Kelsey, cough — are a bit standoffish because of their loyalty to Nini, but he makes the best of an awkward situation. Speaking of Kelsey, we find out she used to have a dog named Gatsby, which makes me immediately like her more because same.
All of the chefs are impressed by the Seelbach Hotel when they arrive the next day, and rightfully so. I’ve never been to the Rathskeller bar, but it is a stunner, right out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel — literally. As the guests file in to the dining room, Tom, Padma, Graham Elliot and guest judge chef Ken Oringer make their entrance, all decked out in 1920’s attire, which makes me wonder if Padma came up with this challenge just so she could wear that flapper dress.
Break out your flapper dresses and top hats, we're headed back to the Roaring 20's!
— BravoTopChef (@BravoTopChef) January 10, 2019
Here’s each dish with the corresponding cocktail:
The Last Word
The judges like Kelsey’s scallops, Eric’s oysters, and Eddie’s bourbon-cured salmon the most, with Graham going as far to say the oysters were one of the best things he’s eaten in a while. As a result, Eric gets the win. Congrats, Eric!
As good as the top three dishes were, the bottom three dishes were bad. Tom says Sara’s bay scallops with avocado and eggplant tasted like “a dip you’d find at a table at a PTA meeting.” Ouch! Brian’s sausage and gnocchi didn’t fare much better, with Tom saying it tasted like “sand in a cup” and Padma comparing the gnocchi to a “greasy sponge.” Ultimately, because Brother Luck’s chicken dish with liver mousse was too spicy and had nothing to do with his cocktail, he is sent home. Brother, we hardly knew ye.
Next week: A butchering challenge with Dario Cecchini, the Mad Butcher of Panzano! I can’t wait.